I’m writing this article in the year 2016. Consider it a time capsule of sorts. If you’re reading this centuries or even mere decades from now, as one of the few remaining survivors of the human race, stuck in a future in which the earth is a smouldering thermonuclear wasteland, and you’re desperately searching for a historical record of how things ended up this way – it was Islam.
Yep, the 7th Century religion. Islam. We didn’t take it seriously. We couldn’t even bring ourselves to publicly and vocally identify the menace it posed because we didn’t want to offend anyone. We dismissed all the signs. Even when they rubbed our faces in it and presented us with atrocities of a scope and scale that we couldn’t ignore, we preferred to concentrate on looking for ways to blame ourselves.
We scarcely even acknowledged that Muslims could put a foot wrong unless we had somehow coerced them into it.
There was once an adage which stated that you were never more than 6ft away from rat in the city formerly known as London. Similarly, you could have thrown a dart at a calendar blindfolded and never have it land too far away from the date of a high profile outrage committed by the Religion of Peace (that’s what they used to call it – honestly.) And just as jihadist terror in our time had become as regular as clockwork, our collective reaction to it had become just as depressingly predictable.
For a while there, we had an internet based social media application called Twitter where people could express their thoughts in 140 characters or less. I had a tweet pinned to the top of my Twitter feed bemoaning our deeply frustrating and apathetic response to Muslim terrorism. It was a seemingly timeless observation on the indifferent and cowardly reaction by large portions of society to any widely publicised incident of large-scale Islamic carnage.
When an Islamic fascist marched into a gay bar in Orlando, Florida and gunned down over 100 people, 49 of whom succumbed to their injuries, we reacted to this obscenity exactly the same way as we had to the Islamic State’s massacre of civilians in Brussels in March 2016. And to the mass-murder of French citizens in Paris in November 2015. And to every act of jihadist terrorism before it.
We didn’t surrender our capacity for shock and surprise. We remained perpetually bemused as to what could drive people to commit such acts even when they told us outright. In some cases, we even attempted to censor the transcripts of the killers explaining, in their own words, exactly what had motivated them. We tried at all costs to maintain our pretence of confusion. We described these incidents as “tragedies” rather than “atrocities”, and in doing so, we used language more usually reserved for unfortunate accidents rather than acts of intentional, venomous brutality.
Yet, we made a concerted effort to convince ourselves that we actually cared. We temporarily changed our profile pictures to reflect our solidarity. Some of us prayed. We created hashtags. We held candlelight vigils. We took to the streets and simply stood around in a crowd for a bit. In other words; for all of our well-meaning expressions of empathy, we nonetheless remained determinedly reluctant to do anything of any tangible benefit whatsoever.
We had all the same arguments with all the same apologists. “In the U.S you’re more likely to be killed by a far-right terrorist than a Muslim one” they told us. In downplaying the danger in this way they chauvinistically ignored the infinitely graver threat posed to countries and populations outside of the United States. Yet in the same breath they also hypocritically accused us of a racist self-centeredness, insufficient in our sympathy for murdered citizens of Muslim majority countries blighted daily by Islamic terror.
“Christianity was also historically violent” they said. “The Bible also contains injunctions to murder”. They refused to recognise the distinction between a problem that had been effectively resolved centuries ago, and an issue that was beating down their doors as they spoke.
“You’re taking the violence of the Quran out of context” they told us, whilst refusing to explain the proper context in which divinely mandated persecution and mass-murder is acceptable. Meanwhile, their concern for this supposed misunderstanding of Islam stretched only as far as non-Muslims. This odd sense of priority meant that they spent their time arguing with the people who were least likely to be influenced to commit massacres as a result of these texts.
“You’re interpreting Islam the same way as the Jihadists do” they complained, whilst simultaneously arguing that jihadists were not actually inspired by Islamic doctrine in the first place.
They rigged the game so we couldn’t win. They conflated our opposition towards dangerous ideas and the people that enforce them, with bigotry towards an entire ethnic group. We expressed our solidarity with the persecuted minorities forced to live under the boot of theocratic fascism, and they called it patronising and insincere.
In evaluating the mass sexual assault of thousands of women across Europe in a single night by Islamic immigrants, we suggested a possible connection to the misogyny that permeates Islamic culture and beliefs. This was enough for them to accuse us of being just as bad as the rapists themselves. They claimed that the victims were the ones that needed to adapt their behaviour rather than the perpetrators.
We attempted to limit the import of dangerous theological and cultural views into our societies, and we were accused of applying collective blame.
We warned about the possibility of the future you now find yourself in. We worried aloud about a scenario in which enthusiastically suicidal and genocidal regimes acquired apocalyptic weaponry, but our words were twisted and misrepresented. We were accused of advocating nuclear first-strikes. They called us genocidal, fascist maniacs whilst rebranding real genocidal fascist maniacs as activists for ‘social justice.’
There were some truly heroic Muslims attempting to reform Islam from within at great cost and danger to themselves, but they were few and far between, and the insurmountable challenge they were undertaking was essentially defeated by desperately finite timescales.
For all their supposed concern about dangerous ideas, secularist and atheist groups ended up being as good as useless. They were still debating the difference between evolution and abiogenesis, and dissecting the flaws of Pascal’s Wager when the jihadist’s blades began hacking through their vocal chords.
Likewise, the feminists did everything they could to turn a blind eye to the most vicious and oppressive sexism and misogyny running through the heart of Islamic theology and culture. They were busy promoting gender-neutral pronouns and arguing about male-centric video games when the bombs dropped.
I once heard someone say that if you lose to an enemy who has given you his playbook, then you deserve to. Well that’s what happened. We couldn’t even bring ourselves to use the word ‘enemy’ about people who wanted us dead. These people routinely carried out the most appallingly gratuitous offenses to human rights and human decency and we helped them. They sexually assaulted thousands of schoolgirls up and down Great Britain, and we were complicit. We concealed these crimes. We protected the criminals. We made excuses for them. We lied on their behalves. We aligned ourselves with them like the weak kid who tries to befriend the school bully in the hope that he’ll be safe when the beatings are being dished out. And in cases where we were unable to provide enough of a smokescreen to divert attention away from these horrors, then we simply stood aside and watched them happen.
In the end we not only lost sight of what our values were, but we completely abandoned our willingness and duty, to defend them.
Instead, we tried everything we could to appease the Muslims in our societies. We implemented Sharia compliant bank accounts to meet their religious requirements. We allowed them to practice their own misogynistic system of domestic law. We allowed religious dress-codes for Muslims that would have been tolerated for no other group. We allowed Halal abattoirs to operate discriminatory employment practices. We exempted Muslims from animal welfare requirements and we imposed their ritually slaughtered meat indiscriminately upon unwitting consumers. We broadcasted the call to prayer every night during the month of Ramadan. We banned experts on Islamic theology from entering our country in order to prevent them speaking truthfully about the subject in which they specialised. We censored others and we censored ourselves.
Unsurprisingly our toleration for the religious and cultural practices of Muslims was not reciprocated, and ultimately our efforts were not enough. They would never have been enough. And we should have known it.
It’s time for me to sign off now. I hope this has gone some small way towards helping you understand why your world looks the way it does. I’ll finish by apologising on behalf of my generation. Sorry it’s come to this, and sorry we didn’t do more to stop it.
Good luck and Godspeed…